Although Austin-based singer/songwriter Adam Torres has been making music professionally for a decade now, in a lot of ways, his upcoming LP, Pearls to Swine, is his first “proper” release. The album, his first release of any kind in four years, is out next Friday, September 9th, courtesy of Fat Possum. Adam self-released his debut, Nostra Nova, in 2006. The album became a regional indie hit around Athens, OH, but shortly after Adam decided to focus his attention on other things: college, moving to South America to teach and volunteer, grad school in Texas, and even spending two years cleaning the water of the Rio Grande River. Although all the while, he dedicated his downtime to writing and performing music, eventually releasing a self-titled cassette tape of some of this music on DZ Tapes in 2012.
Pearls to Swine is already being praised by the likes of NPR (who are currently streaming the entire album here), Stereogum, and Mojo, who all seem to appreciate the album’s beautiful sincerity and simplicity, reminiscent of the greatest folk and Americana songwriters of the 1960s. The album was recorded with a supergroup of sorts, comprised of Aisha Burns, Dailey Toliver, and Swans’ Thor Harris. Well, Adam Torres is about to take the band out for a few live dates in Texas next week, before an extensive tour throughout October and November, which includes an October 18th stop at Johnny Brenda’s. (The shows will all also include a set from Thor Harris’ Thor & Friends.) Adam recently took some time to tell me about his newest music and current band and what they’re most excited about in the coming months.
Izzy Cihak: Your latest album, Pearls to Swine, is just about to hit shelves. How do you think the album compares to previous releases? What would you consider to be the album’s most significant influences, both musical and otherwise?
Adam Torres: Well, my first release, Nostra Nova, was recorded piece by piece over the span of one year in 2006. Almost every sound on that record was an overdub of some kind, so to me it has a modular sound and feel to it, because I was still trying to figure out what sounds best expressed my ideas and thoughts at the time. My self-titled tape from 2012 is a collection of demos that I recorded in a one-bedroom apartment while I was living in Ecuador. Just solo nylon string guitar and vocals — way less orchestral than Nostra Nova. The new record, Pearls to Swine, was recorded almost all live, except the vocals being overdubbed later, so the main difference I see when comparing the three is that the new record feels fully formed, like a live show with a steady cast more so than the previous projects. Pearls to Swine is influenced by geography and degeneration — primarily of the American West or the idea of the American West — and I wanted to the songs and the characters to be depicted in a way where their emotional and physical geographies blend together.
Izzy: Do you think there’s anything especially important for fans and potential fans to know about your process of creating music, or just your aim as an artist?
Adam: Anything I would say about this could spoil the song for the listener, so my only hope is that they would give the music minutes, seconds of their time and decide whether or not they want to let it engage with their imagination.
Izzy: The album is coming out on Fat Possum Records, which is one of my favorite labels. How was working with them? Do you have any particular favorite labelmates?
Adam: It’s a privilege for sure to work with Fat Possum Records and they have been very generous, flexible, and kind to me and my band. I’ve been good friends with JPKS over the years and his band, Water Liars, kind of introduced me to the people at Fat Possum, but I really enjoy and admire all of my labelmates. It’s an honor to be in their company.
Izzy: You also have a really incredible (and incredibly cool) band. How did all of you come together?
Adam: I went on tour with Aisha, Dailey, and Rudy last summer. I had played a show with Matthew once last year too but didn’t get a chance to play regularly with him. And I met Thor about a year ago. We all came together, really, to make this record. When we play live, it’s usually just Aisha, Dailey, Thor, and me. Like so many other music scenes, musicians in Austin are usually in several other bands. I met all of these people mostly from hanging out at shows or seeing them play in their other bands.
Izzy: There are a lot of upcoming live dates. Are there any cities or venues you’re especially excited to play, or just visit or revisit?
Adam: In terms of places, I’ve never been to the Pacific Northwest and I really can’t wait to get out there. I have some friends that live in Oregon and Washington but have never been able to afford to get out travel to them. But I’m stoked to go to all of these places, though, seeing old friends and making new friends, too.
Izzy: What can be expected of the live show? You’re going to be playing our very own Johnny Brenda’s in the near future.
Adam: I’m very excited about Johnny Brenda’s because I’ve heard so many good things about it. We will be a four-person band — Aisha on violin, Dailey on bass and Wurlitzer, and Thor on drums and percussion.
Izzy: Finally, what’s next for you? How do you hope and plan to spend the remainder of 2016 and the first part of 2017?
Adam: Hopefully just getting to keep doing what we’re doing — making music and traveling around the country or world to share it with friends. There are more recordings in the works, so maybe 2017 will be a time for those, we shall see.